English | Malaysian
I identify myself as Anglo-Malay. My mum’s English and my dad’s from Malaysia. I was born in the UK and then moved out with my family to Kuala Lumpur when I was 6 months old. My mom stayed there with us until I was 16.
It was a relatively lower middle-class upbringing, nice small houses. Malaysia is very multicultural, so you don’t really notice that you’re different because there’s the Indian neighbour across the road and the Chinese neighbour next door. Then there’s the Malay families all around the place and you don’t really notice that I’ve got a White mum. I didn’t actually notice that my family was different until primary school, I then started to realise that the majority of families were Malay, Chinese or Indian.
I went to a Chinese kindergarten but because I understood that it was a Chinese kindergarten I knew I wouldn’t see people of my mix there. The main reason why they sent me there was to learn English. When I went to primary school I realised I was different, the only other person in my school of mixed-race heritage was my older brother. That was it for a while, until I spotted one other kid a few classes above from us who’s mum was American and dad was Malay. I was happy I’d found another kid who looked like me, but there was a barrier there as they came from a rich family. Slowly my parents gravitated towards other families who had mixed race children, we are all friends now. They are identified as Eurasian by the community.
I lived in a really nice community, so you didn’t feel different as such. But I think there was always a curiosity. It wasn’t until I came to England that I experienced any negativity.
I was told that both my grandparents were really against my parents’ marriage, but by that point they knew that there was nothing they could do. My grandad on my father’s side was more strongly against it and to try and stop them. My parents met through their family’s postings in the British Army. My father and my mother’s father were both in the Army. My parents met at a mutual friend’s house. When the families realised that there was like a romance going on, my grandad on my father’s side had my dad posted to Penang, just to make it difficult to get them together. When it became clear that my dad was going to marry a White woman, my grandmother was against it but her only positive comment was ‘at least the children will be beautiful’. I think there was always a curiosity about my mum being White. She is Christian, and she moved to a Muslim country. So, there was always that curiosity, what is it is like having a White mum. There is always the assumption is that your mum is the Asian one. Like she’s some sort of Thai bride. People don’t really understand like I can, I can imagine this is almost a stigma you have that the Westerner goes out to find an Asian wife.
I’ve got a few mixed-race friends. I don’t particularly choose race or the fact that they’re mixed isn’t really a factor when it comes to dating or anything like that. It’s not really been a thing. The thought of that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I didn’t think any of my choices were particularly based on race. If I had the opportunity to come back again I would wouldn’t change my heritage, I would probably want to come back less hairy!
I think it’s inevitable that the world is going to be less and less distinctive. Humankind is going to be less and less distinguishable by physical identity. It will be down to culture really, and whether people keep up a certain culture or infuse the mix of cultures. I’m looking forward to a world where the colour of your skin doesn’t matter because everybody’s a range of shades of Brown. I just think it’ll be amazing.